The Fox Broadcasting Co. has inked a three-year deal that will keep the sharp-tongued Simon Cowell as a judge on the network's hit reality series, American Idol. The new pact also includes a first-look deal with Cowell's new production banner, Simcow Ltd., and a series commitment with the network.
"They offered me two things I couldn't turn down," Cowell told Variety Monday. "I couldn't pass up the financial offer to do three more (editions of) American Idol and the commitment to launch the TV production company. It wasn't a patronizing deal to shut me up, it was a really good deal."
Under the new deal, Cowell will reportedly earn about $150,000 per episode for the third edition of American Idol, which is set to air in January 2004. But Cowell added that Fox's assurance that the show would remain a once-a-year event also served as an incentive for his return to the series.
Judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and host Ryan Seacrest will also return for the next several years.
Cowell said he also planned to try his hand in both scripted and non-scripted projects at Simcow and plans on bringing two or three executives on board to help him manage the company's production slate, but added that no concepts had been determined yet.
"It's a slow process," Cowell said. "I'm a great believer in focusing on one project at a time and seeing it through."
According to Variety, Cowell--whose reality show Cupid debuts Wednesday on CBS--will not be able to appear regularly on other reality shows, but may still appear in some of his Fox creations. Cowell, however, appears content at the prospect of working off-camera.
"If I was working alongside Fox, and it made sense to appear in something, I'd do it," he said. "But I'm more than happy to be behind the scenes."
Cowell, who first appeared as a judge on the U.K.'s Pop Idol, is now in production on the series' second installment but said it is unlikely he will continue the ITV show beyond the current season. For the next three years, the longtime pop music producer and record label owner plans to make his home in the United States, crossing over to Britain six to nine months a year.
I am not going to be the one who disses Santa. Even if The Santa Clause 2 was a real stinker (which thankfully it isn't) I can't in all good conscience slam an unassuming if sometimes too-sweet story about the man who brings us the spirit of Christmas. Sorry. Since donning the big guy's red coat in the first The Santa Clause Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) has thoroughly enjoyed being Santa Claus for the last eight years. His elves love him and as Santa's Number One Elf Bernard (David Krumholtz) points out "the kids are 83 percent happier since he's been Santa." But apparently there's another clause to being Claus. Scott has to find a wife in the 28 days before Christmas or he will be Santa no more. He finds this out on the same day he finds out his 14-year-old son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) has made the "Naughty" list. As the "de-Santa-fication" process begins Scott has to leave the North Pole to help his son and find the perfect Mrs. Clause. In his place to smooth things over until he returns is a duplicate Santa who takes the job a little too seriously and ends up creating a police state at the North Pole. Can Scott reconcile with Charlie and win the heart of his son's jaded but beautiful school principal Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell) all in time to save Christmas from a psychopath? Oh you all know the answer to that. Clause 2 isn't going to go down as a children's classic but its endearing enough to make an impression.
Tim Allen is one of those actors who pretty much plays himself in every film but even as himself he is a fun guy to watch. The 1994 The Santa Clause was Allen's first foray into feature films after he had established himself as a television star in his hit series Home Improvement--and no one had a clue the movie would be as successful as it was catapulting Allen into movie stardom. But with a string of recent flops including Joe Somebody and Big Trouble Allen needs a hit--this may be it. He doesn't get to show off his biting comic talents quite as much in Clause 2 but Santa's clothes fit him beautifully (OK maybe not exactly the right fit but pretty close). Of course playing the psychotic duplicate Santa is where Allen gets to have the most fun with an incredible make-up job to boot. The supporting cast Krumholtz Mitchell Lloyd and cherub-faced Spencer Breslin (The Kid) as a nerdy elf know-it-all all do their jobs adequately. But the guys who steal the show are the cameos by other "legendary" characters including Father Time (Peter Boyle) Cupid (an hysterical Kevin Pollak) Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler) and The Tooth Fairy (Art LaFleur) who is desperate to change his name to the "Mole-inator." Apparently they do all exist and have a great time together.
The best part of The Santa Clause 2 is the world it creates. The first Clause did a great job focusing on Scott and how he transforms into old St. Nick but the North Pole was only touched upon. Now in the hands of TV sitcom director Michael Lembeck it's up close and personal. Lembeck takes his first trip into feature films and seemingly has a ball painting a vibrant picture of the North Pole where the hustle and bustle of elves and snow and toymaking makes us believe it really exists. So real in fact that when a stray cargo plane comes dangerously close to discovering Santa's village it sends the denizens of the town into an "Elf-Con One"-alert status. The top priority is to always keep Santa's secret safe (which is one of the reasons Charlie has such a tough time--he can't tell the world what his dad really does). There are the reindeers too of course and thankfully they don't actually speak English--just a kind of mumbled reindeer-speak only Santa can understand. Funny stuff. Sure Clause 2 is a little cartoonish a tad predictable and sometimes heavy-handed with the message about the spirit of Christmas but it's also just pure fun.